February 28, 2009

Title on the line

Mike Anderson has a few go-to phrases during his interviews. Anderson always likes to say, "We're gonna be in the hunt for something."

Kim English finishes the cliché: "We just don't know what."

Now, the Tigers know.

"Coach is humble and he's pretty reserved, but all of us know what we're in the hunt for," English said. "We're in the hunt for a Big 12 and a national championship. That's why we work so hard. We're a young team, but we lace them up every day to play."

The next step in that quest comes Sunday in Lawrence, KS. The Tigers sit 11-and-2 in Big 12 play, a game behind the league-leading Jayhawks. With a win, though the teams would be tied, Missouri would have the inside track to the title by virtue of a season sweep of its arch-rival.

Even Anderson admits what is now on the horizon for his team, after trying to repeat his well-worn phrase.

"We're in the hunt for something, what it is I don't know, but I think we're going in the right direction," Anderson said. "We all know there's a conference championship that's at stake and we control our own destiny. I think that's the biggest thing."

With wins in their final three regular season games, Missouri would win the league title. But beating the Jayhawks is a must. If Mizzou were to lose, they would fall two games behind Kansas with two to play. Even with a tie, Missouri would not be able to get the No. 1 seed because Kansas has a better record against the rest of the North Division teams this season.

"Our approach never changes. It's the next game and Kansas is going to be our next game," Anderson said. "We're going to get focused and get ready for it."

Just another game? Not even close. This one is different. But the key, the Tigers know, is the same as any other game on the road.

"We are all we have right now," Tiller said. "We'll have a couple of fans that come to the game when you go on the road, but we've got to contain the crowd, keep them out of the game and play our defensive game."

The Tigers and Jayhawks will tip at 1:00 on Sunday afternoon.

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